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The Productive Life

Lesson 1 of 17

Class Introduction

Chris Bailey

The Productive Life

Chris Bailey

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:13:33
2 The Productivity Project Duration:05:47
4 The Rule of 3 Duration:17:30
5 Your Most Important Tasks Duration:10:19
6 Beating Procrastination Duration:22:18
7 Hotspots Duration:15:24
8 The Basics of Energy Duration:10:44
9 Working Around Your Energy Duration:08:29
10 Use Caffeine Strategically Duration:07:02
11 Incremental Improvements Duration:08:23
12 Taming Distractions Duration:27:15
13 Hyperfocus Duration:09:00
14 Meditation Exercise Duration:12:21
15 Taking a Thinking Break Duration:06:11
16 Internal Distractions Duration:04:12
17 Self-Talk Duration:10:43

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I wanna start this course in a bit of a different fashion and instead of diving right, right deep into the content, I wanna get to something that is just as important. And that is why we're here. And I wanna start by asking you guys a question to kind of frame this idea for the folks that are watching online. And that is why should we invest in our productivity in the first place? And it's a fun kind of question because everybody will come to this course with a different idea in mind for what they want to accomplish. So it's something that I'd like to pose for you guys now if you don't mind. I know we have you mic'd up. If you feel comfortable, just let me know and share what you think. Yeah. I'll just start. For me, productivity is all about staying on track and prioritizing. So throughout the day, it doesn't matter what room you put yourself in, if there's nothing around you, you still get distracted. So, how do you get through that? How do you push through? And there's so many d...

istractions today, especially that derail us and I like to, you'll see a bit later in the course, but I like to take a broader definition of what a distraction is. It's not just something that interrupts us in the moment but it's anything that derails what we intend to accomplish in general. I'm curious, maybe two more, two more. Yeah. So for me, the question is how do I make the right choices to come closer and faster to my goal? So basically, how can I do less and achieve more? Exactly, yeah. If that's possible. Exactly, you know, productivity it's kind of a misleading term because it has the word production in it but it's not about how much we produce. We could produce email all day long and not accomplish a single thing. It's very much how much we accomplish and we'll chat a bit more about this too is the tasks that we do over the course of the day, some of them allow us to accomplish a disproportionate amount. So if we mentor a new employee that joins our team, for an example, or we seek out new collaborators for a new project that we're working on, for every minute we spend doing those things, we accomplish 10 or 20 times as much as we do pulling to refresh Twitter or Facebook or Instagram one additional time. And so there's that disconnect that when we step back, we can work with that much more deliberateness. One more. And I want to invest in productivity because I want to figure out a way to maintain momentum in my productivity. And to not feel burnt out from all the tasks that's on my to do list. It's tough to make sense of the noise. And this is kind of the ironic thing about teaching a course about productivity is the people who need it the most are the ones who are so entrenched in what they're doing that they don't necessarily take a step back and think, "Okay, what's actually important here?" And so a course like this one or a book on productivity or consuming anything about productivity is valuable for that reason because it lets you take that step back. And I love those answers because they all touched on a topic, a theme, that runs through the individual things that I'll be talking about today. And that's shutting off of autopilot mode. You know, we so often work in this mode where we work in response to the work that comes our way. We get an email and then we focus on that. We get an alert on our smartphone and then we focus on that. Something comes up and somebody comes by our office and then we deal with that interruption instead. And so we simply respond to what comes our way and in this way, we become busier when we work on autopilot mode, but we accomplish less because we allow other people to dictate what we work on over the course of the day instead of setting our own direction for us. And I would make the argument that with our work overall, if you're here in the studio audience, if you're watching at home, you probably have a better handle on this than most people because you realize there's value in taking this step back but I think overall we've never been so busy while accomplishing so little. And we've lost control over our attention as well. We were chatting a bit about this, the folks who are in the studio audience today, where we're kind of batted around. Our attention's batted around almost like a cat playing with a mouse where we wake up and it's our smartphone that wakes us up and we see oh, somebody tagged us in a picture on Facebook so we go off to Facebook. And then we see oh, Instagram, two new notifications, what's going on there? And Twitter, maybe I should check the news, what happened overnight? Everything's happening overnight these days and so we tend to a million things before we get out of bed. And this is the thing is this isn't my quote but if the first thing you reach for in the morning was a bottle of whiskey, you'd be an alcoholic. What is true about the way that we live our lives if the first thing we do is reach for our phones? And so we need to reclaim this intentionality that I think lies at the core of our productivity. And really there's only so many hours. I pulled this pie chart from the American Time Use Survey and they found that the average American spends about a third of their day sleeping, a third of their day working, and once we account for the time that it takes to eat food, it's pretty enjoyable, eating food, depends what you're eating, doing household chores, doing the miscellaneous tasks that we're responsible for, we're left with this little sliver of time to spend how we want. That's what's left for the people and for the free time. And I would argue that the point of productivity is to take this little sliver of time and broaden it so that we can work smarter throughout the day instead of just harder. So that we can step back and prioritize and know that we're not wasting our time and that we can work with intentionality behind what we're doing. This always surprises people but I'm a very, for a productivity expert, I'm a very lazy person. One of my favorite things to do is relax with a book and just kind of hang out. But that's the point of productivity, is to accomplish everything that I need to do in the rest of the time so that I have more time for what's meaningful to me and for you guys as well. Whether that's a creative hobby that you wanna invest in, whether that's more time to read, whether that's more time to volunteer, whether that's more time to mentor, whether that's taking up a side hustle. This is why productivity exists. So that we can shut off autopilot mode. You know, the point of productivity is to work with this deliberateness and this intentionality behind what we do. It's to become busy, not about everything, not about what happens to come our way, but about the right things, the things that allow us to accomplish a disproportionate amount. And accomplish more of what we want. Sometimes we wanna have that uber successful day where we ace a job interview and bring on three new clients and team up with a few other people to collaborate on a new project. And some days we just wanna chill out and relax on the beach somewhere and sip on a Corona and read a book. (audience laughing) Yeah, those are good days. But my argument is that when we define productivity as accomplishing what we intend to do, that we're perfectly productive if that's what we set out to do at the start of the day. It's about regaining focus and also regaining some time to spend how we want. And so speaking of time, I wanna respect yours and the folks that are watching online by making the most of it. You know, we have three or four hours together this morning and so I wanna make this course one of the most practical things that you've ever taken. And so there's a practical element to everything. I'll share a few fun stories from my weird productivity project 'cause there's some weird stuff that went down in it but there is still a practical element to everything because I wanna respect the time that you're giving to me today. And so over the course of the next little bit, I'm gonna share 15 ideas/tactics. All of these that you can start implementing into the way that you work right away. They aren't something that will take forever, they're something that you can immediately action. And there's also 10 hands-on activities and this kind of fits with the rhythm that we're gonna take over the course of this course. And so we're gonna have a tactic that I'll talk about and then a two minute challenge, then a tactic, two minute challenge, tactic, two minute challenge, tactic, two minute, and so on. This is kind of the rhythm that we're gonna follow this morning because these ideas, I don't know if you've ever taken a course, I definitely have, where I'm so excited to do the stuff when I'm doing the course but then I'm done and I just say, "Oh, that course was nice," but then I go back to doing everything the same way after. I wanna minimize the risk of that happening with you guys by integrating these little challenges in. And for folks that are following along online and for you guys as well, there are expanded versions of these challenges in the notebook so that you can dive in even deeper. And I promise you for every minute that you put in, either watching this course or doing these activities, you'll get back at least 10. 'Cause what's the point of watching a productivity course or investing in your learning if you don't? And there's a lot of what I like to think of as productivity porn out there. You know, advice that's really fun to read about but that you don't necessarily earn the time back from. And so the best productivity advice, there's a lot of it out there, there's a lot of B.S. as well too that I've waded through and I'll share a bit more about that in a little bit. The best advice allows you to make a multiple of that time back and then some. And so there's expanded things in the workbook and there's also a printable PDF 'cause we're gonna be blowing through a lot of tactics here that has all of the practical, tactical takeaways from this course. So what you'll get, I promise you, a new approach to thinking about productivity where it's intention-centered rather than business-centered. You'll get more meaningful work accomplished. More time, attention, and energy which we'll talk about this in a second. I consider time, attention, and energy to be the three main ingredients to how productive we are everyday. You'll get a high perspective view of the work that you do and the life that you live. I'll share a few strategies for accomplishing that. And the final thing that I really wanna highlight is that my goal is to provide you with ideas, not advice. There's a lot of people who like to preach advice, I like to share ideas because everybody does different work, everybody lives a different life, everybody is wired totally different. Some people have kids and so their schedule is constrained in some ways that somebody who can work for themselves as an entrepreneur full time, they have more freedom. And so I wanna share ideas and not all of these will stick. Of these 15, my job, I would consider it done if five or 10 of them stuck. But I promise you that for the five or 10 that do stick, those will positively change the way that you work. This course won't help you in two ways. It won't help you do the work. You know, it'd be nice if the work, well there's ways to automate tasks which we'll talk about, but some things can't be automated. Sometimes we have to just do the work and we won't help you there. Or work hard. I'll talk about working smart for the next three and half or four hours but working hard is something that this course won't help you do. I see these two ideas as kind of two sides of the same coin where half of it's about working smart and half of it is about working hard and both of these are as essential because it would be great if we could work smart all day and work for like 10 minutes and just kind of relax the rest of the time but that's not the way the world works. We can work reasonable hours, very reasonable hours, I work five or six hours a day doing these tactics while still maintaining a productive life, but working hard is something that we just need to do. There's a great quote from Steve Jobs. I know everybody quotes Steve Jobs so I promise just one Steve Jobs quote over the course of this presentation. That's a Chris Bailey guarantee if you're watching online. And he has said, "I have never found in my life "that you can teach somebody who doesn't wanna work hard "to work hard." You know, this is kind of a quality that we have and it has to do with how meaningful we find the work. This is actually something that's worth mentioning is that sometimes why people are drawn to productivity advice is they're not motivated but if they switch to a different job that was more in line with what they care about and what they're passionate about, they might be naturally more productive.

Class Description

It’s a common refrain: “If I only I had more hours in the day, I’d be able to get everything done.” But since finding more hours isn’t an option, we search for ways to be more productive—to better use our limited time to not only complete our required tasks but also accomplish our loftier goals.

Chris Bailey, author of “The Productivity Project,” spent a year of his life conducting productivity experiments on himself in order to discover the secrets to living the most productive life possible. He’ll share his most insightful lessons on how to work deliberately rather than reactively, manage your energy better, avoid excessive procrastination and have more time to do what you find meaningful in life.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Slow down and work more deliberately.
  • Shrink or eliminate the unimportant from your life.
  • Focus on your highest-leverage tasks that give you the greatest return.
  • Schedule less time for important tasks.
  • Distract yourself from inevitable distractions.
  • Develop productive procrastination.
  • Use a healthy diet, sleep and exercise to be more productive.
  • Strive for imperfection.
  • Form good habits so your productivity is automatic.
  • Motivate yourself by understanding why you want to get something done.


Michael Duskus

I wasn't sure what to expect from this course, but I was happily surprised to learn very useful, practical approaches to being more productive in all aspects of my life. Chris's approach to dealing with time and productivity challenges we all face daily are simple to comprehend — and with a little discipline, easy to implement. I'm looking forward to reading his book, too. Additionally, the team at Creative Live are so great and make the experience memorable; from their smiles, warm greetings and professionalism to the great food provided, they know how to bring out the good vibes in everyone. We're definitely looking forward to attending more classes!

Helen Leung

I found Chris' book very useful, full of great ideas that are easy to implement, and totally fun to read. This seminar is the same: inspiring, practical, and very enjoyable. The productivity ideas that he introduced are crucial for reducing stress and enjoying our work and personal life more. Highly recommended!


A fantastic class that will NOT teach you how to be more productive in creating to-do-lists and completing as many tasks as you can, but will explain how to make right priorities and choices and how achieve what you want in a more efficient matter while having a holistic view of your productivity, including your approach to food, sleep and meditation. The class is packed with actionable tools and techniques and I recommend it to everyone who would like to start working less and achieve more. The teacher - Chris - has a great personality - he's very likable and relatable - and he delivers the message in a manner that makes it very easy to understand and act upon the message.